I photographed this European Green Toad (Bufo viridis viridis Laurenti, 1768) in Riem, on the outskirts of Munich. The primary habitats of the European Green Toad in Germany are sand and gravel beds on the floodplains of rivers, a dynamic landscape due to the regular input of virgin soil and freshwater. Due to river regulation measures in the nineteenth century (straightening of natural meanders and deepening of water courses, etc.), this kind of habitat has become extremely rare. For this reason, this species of toad is mainly found today in areas of stone quarrying, e.g. man-made gravel pits. The Green Toad can travel up to 10 kilometers, and is thus a pioneer species, able to react to changes and settle in a new habitat.
This secondary habitat is also fast-changing but ultimately threatened by further anthropogenic land use: the toad is both dependent on human actions and endangered by them. The European Green Toad is a protected species across Europe. In Bavaria, populations are mainly located along the river Danube and the Munich gravel plain (Münchener Schotterebene). Since 2009, the Bavarian Society for the Protection of Birds in Munich (Landesbund für Vogelschutz, LBV München) has been charged with the conservation of the Green Toad in the greater Munich area, which involves monitoring population numbers and responding as necessary.
My work as an environmental consultant constantly brings me up against the question of whether and when it makes sense to engage in nature conservation, and why dynamic and unpredictable natural systems are seen as inherently problematic by many of my fellow humans. I am committed to finding ways in which free and dynamic human populations can live with – or at least alongside – free and dynamic populations of flora and fauna.
Tobias Schiefer is an environmental consultant at Professor Schaller UmweltConsult, Munich